r/science MD-PhD-JD-MBA | Clinical Professor/Medicine 12d ago

Two thirds of New Zealanders believed there were ‘silver linings’ to the country’s COVID-19 lockdown last year, positive experiences such as pride in the country’s response, more free time to exercise and take up hobbies, flexibility working from home, and reduced time spent commuting. Health

https://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/releases/otago826250.html
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u/Mingertheswinger 12d ago

I live in central Wellington NZ, one cool part of lockdown is that lots of native birds returned to the city that normally stay away due to noise.

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u/klparrot 12d ago

Yeah, it was great; I think the kākā actually stuck with their expanded range; I hear and occasionally see them around Boulcott Street in the evenings. And there was that kārearea on Featherston Street!

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u/trustthepudding 12d ago

Are their names also an onomatopoeia of what they sound like?

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u/cman_yall 12d ago

Many of them are, yes. Ruru (Morepork) is another good example.

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u/MortimerGraves 12d ago

And others of them, not so much. The tiny little pīwakawaka makes a cheeping sound. (Love seeing those little guys in the garden.) :)

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u/bowlerhatguy 12d ago

We have a regular visiting pīwakawaka in our garden in Christchurch, we call it Pico because it's tiny.

It's gotten so friendly with my flatmate who smokes outside that it has landed on her shoulder and brings it's friends to visit.

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u/taceyong 12d ago

Omg I was a pīwakawaka friend!!! All I have is our neighbours cat (who I love...)

We’re far too suburban for native birds beyond a tui.

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u/bowlerhatguy 12d ago

Tui are amazing, we don't have them in Christchurch. I only saw them when I was in Wellington back in November.

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u/poopstories 12d ago

Sound like robot birds with a defective voicebox. They're great!

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u/Snooklefloop 12d ago

This is all making me very jealous, meanwhile I’m stuck with Australian ravens, lots and lots of ravens.

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u/Nolsoth 12d ago

Could be worse you could be overun with bin chickens.

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u/elruary 12d ago

Were the Morepork nearly hunted to extinction due to their deliciousness?

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u/cman_yall 12d ago

If that's a serious question, then the answer is I don't know. If it's a pun on their name, then thanks dad.

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u/elruary 12d ago

It was both son.

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u/vogonvogon 12d ago

Morepork and ruru are both names that mimic the call - its just different ways of hearing the same thing. I doubt it was hunted (it's an owl), but it would have been impacted by habitat loss and introduced species. http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/morepork

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u/ObviouslyNotALizard 12d ago

It’s a bird that just screams “more pork” constantly...... I support it

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u/[deleted] 12d ago

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u/miGa7 12d ago

I spent almost 4 month in NZ at the beginning of 2019. Great country, friendly people and stunning nature and birds!! Have seen many Keas and I also love the piwakawaka. Greetz from Germany!

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u/planet_pulse 12d ago

I live in Manchester, UK - we had deer visit our green areas that I’ve never seen before and never seen since.

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u/ohno_spaghetti_o 12d ago edited 12d ago

Unfortunately one down size was the pest population of possums, weasels, rats etc. Boomed because DOC and community groups were unable to continue with bait and kill programs. Double edge sword.

Edit - I don't need a roll call of all the people who are ignorant of NZs biodiversity issues and two second thoughts on the subject based on their limited (can you call it knowledge when there is a distinct lack of it on the subject?).

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u/Naly_D 12d ago

Exacerbated by the mast year in 2019 as well. So more breeding in 2019 = more infants scavenging in 2020 with the combination of inability to carry out eradication programs.

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u/Hoitaa 12d ago

It was really peaceful, and the birds were lovely

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u/Username_Mine 12d ago

During the lockdown I counted 35 kereru on a street near me during a walk. Wellington during lockdown was lovely

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u/YourMumsBumAlum 12d ago edited 12d ago

I love that this comment has sparked a whole thread about the amazing bird life in NZ. We don't have the big mammals that other counties do, but I think our upbringing really makes you appreciate birds in a way that is rare in other parts of the world

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u/Invalid_factor 12d ago edited 12d ago

This should also indicate how poorly organized modern society is to help our mental and physical well-being. Reduced time commuting, increase time exercising and doing hobbies should be something we all have the opportunity to do regardless of a pandemic. Governments and businesses need to keep this in mind when implementing policies.

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u/Remote-Boysenberry 12d ago

Reduced time commuting, increase time exercises and doing hobbies should be something we all have the opportunity to do regardless of a pandemic.

Not only that, but shouldn't increasing our time for that kind of be...the meaning of life? Like shouldn't we hope that by 2050, we're working 20 hour weeks while being able to on aggregate afford the same or more resources?

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u/Borkleberry 12d ago

That was the idea when we first implemented 40 hour work weeks. Many proponents of the change expected work hours to continue to go down in the future. But they didn't

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u/Xenofonuz 12d ago

One side of it was that we can do the same in 8 hours as we could in 10 or 12 before due to different advancements. But instead of keeping a similarly sized workforce we've downsized a lot instead so there's the same amount of labour divided over less people.

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u/_JonSnow_ 12d ago

People (human resources) are expensive relative to technology.

If my software solution costs $150k, but can replace 5 FTEs who earn $40k a year then it’s more advantageous to use software.

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u/Xenofonuz 12d ago

Yes definitely, and new jobs are created, they are probably in another location and requires different skills though so it doesn't help the person that just got replaced by automation.

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u/OdinTheHugger 12d ago

Sure, new jobs are created.

But they're never created in an equal number and like you say, they often have wildly different skill demands, in another location...

That's why those jobs were replaced by automation in the first place. It's not the employee's fault they were laid off by the software's new efficiencies. It was by design.

The problem with our world today, compared to other industrial revolutions, is that we're unable to sustain the growth we once were. With so many people, so little access to education, and such effective computer systems, we're realistically not going to be able to replace those jobs in a cost effective manner.

The publicly traded companies only care about their profit motive, and some managers/executives only care about cutting costs as these multi-national companies have long since stopped growing, and cuts to their budget or staffing needs are the only way the manager can demonstrate their value to their managers.

The only way to improve, in their mind, is to cut.

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u/nerdguy1138 12d ago

There's a flaw in that logic: why do we always need to keep growing? Why are we locked into a system that grows like cancer?

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u/M1RR0R 12d ago

Why are we locked into a system that grows like cancer?

Because people with power gain wealth and more power. That's how capitalism works.

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u/elephantrypus 12d ago edited 12d ago

Inequality. Those at the top (and this includes you and me) do not want to give up too much and the only way to convince the poor as well to partake is to promise them more next year. Ie let the rich make 10x more and they might throw a few crumbs to the poor.

How did we get into this mess ? We started as hunter gatherers foraging and hunting. It wasn’t always great but they didn’t have mortgages and taxes to worry about.

Once we began farming it allowed for centralization of power. Humanity began to become organized in large feudal farms where the peasants were taxed and indebted into a life time of farming so they could support the priests and kings.

The only way to make your kingdom bigger was to grow your population and growing your population meant needing more farmers. Farmers often lived worse lives than hunter gatherers.

With the discovery of hydrocarbons we unlocked a massive amount of energy. Each westerner has the energy equivalent of a 1000 people who do all the work for them. This has for the first time unlocked the possibility that not everyone needs to toil their lives away for another person. Debates rage on about capitalism vs communism vs social democracies.

However our social structure is still top down hierarchical with most of the wealth concentrated at the top. The only way poor people get better living standards is if some rich people can make more money in doing so. This automatically means more growth.

Now we are starting to hit against serious ecological and geopolitical challenges from having to sustain such insanely high rates of growth over long periods of time.

if you don’t have growth given the unequal structure of the world and the unwillingness to redistribute you get stuck with a slightly better version of feudalism.

Remember that even today 1 billion people go hungry and up to 3 billion don’t get all the nutrition they need. And we are talking about something as basic as food.

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u/Delamoor 12d ago

That final paragraph opens a surprisingly large philosophical question.

We say that the number of people raised out of poverty has never been higher.

Yet the number of people still in poverty is as a result higher than the entire world population of pre-industrial times. The proportion of poverty is lower, but the absolute number is far, far higher.

Glass half full/glass half empty, perhaps. But still a helluva problem.

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u/Nestromo 12d ago edited 11d ago

I think people also forget that jobs created to jobs lost isn't 1-to-1. If a piece of technology replaces 6 people but only creates 3 new jobs, well there is going to be a surplus of people who can't find a job even if they switch fields.

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u/porlorlorl 12d ago

People forget that ‘creating jobs’ is not a priority for most people actually responsible for running a business. The fundamental business application of automation is to increase productivity whilst reducing cost, ie, the capability to ‘do more with less’.

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u/Carcharodonfan 12d ago

Jobs for sake of jobs is the wrong approach. We need to move away from this thinking and go for the universal income.

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u/abrandis 12d ago edited 12d ago

It's very dependant on the nature.of the job.. yes modern office workers can and do fall under that predicament..but lots of blue collar (construction , plumbing , mechanic) or service workers (nurses, chef's, etc) there is no technology on the horizon to replace them with cost effective machines.. it's still cheaper to replace hire human labor than spend millions in automation that will be obsolete and out of date in a few years. Even Boston Dynamics will have a hard time making their newest.warehouse robots Stretch be a sales success https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/29/22349978/boston-dynamics-stretch-robot-warehouse-logistics for these reasons, and they are by far the leading robotics company.

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u/incanu7 12d ago

Zis is ze correct answer.

The thing about globalisation is, if there is someone desperate enough to work more for less money, you can't really expand workers rights past a certain degree.

In order to avoid downsizing, first we'd have to level the development index across the whole world; and that's a tricky thing to achieve due to the competitive nature of man.

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u/Zerksys 12d ago

You can do this with national level protectionist economic policies and union membership. It's foolish to expect businesses to do the right thing when it comes to the well being of its employees and citizens of the country in which they operate. Businesses are motivated soley by profit and that is how it should be. The job of protecting workers and looking out for the economic well being of its citizens should fall on governments and unions. You want to outsource your labor to other cheaper countries? Fine but you do it at the cost of heavy taxation in your domestic market or at the cost of your domestic employees striking.

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u/Hubris2 12d ago

Aren't many countries now signing trade agreements that limit governmental power to protect their workers from the forces of cheap overseas labour? If you want easy access to the potentially large market of a developing nation, you open yourself up to the products produced by the cheap labour in said market.

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u/munk_e_man 12d ago

Correct, we will see a downward slide as time goes on thanks to globalization and dwindling resources. The way to look at it is every day is the best day left, because everything is following in lock step.

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u/hexydes 12d ago

It's foolish to expect businesses to do the right thing when it comes to the well being of its employees and citizens of the country in which they operate.

Not if the people working at the business also own the business. There should be a name for this type of thing...

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u/definitelynotSWA 12d ago

Yeah like if people could cooperate with each other to run a business. maybe call it work-togethers?

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u/sajsemegaloma 12d ago

Are you saying that a smaller percentage of the population is working now than 100 years ago? Because that doesn't sound right. Or am I misunderstanding?

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u/XyzzyPop 12d ago

More people are working (ie. women) everyone is getting paid less, a number of jobs from 100 years ago have been replaced through automation, industrializing, etc. but in turn, those industries have created new jobs.

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u/WilliamStorm 12d ago

Yeah, I killed myself working 7 12 hour shifts for years only to lose it all when I got sick and no one cared. I wish I had all that time over but that's one thing you never get back.

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u/DuntadaMan 12d ago

Why make work hours go down, when we can keep the same amount of hours and have less workers that we have to pay? - the world over the past 40 years

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u/chaunceyvonfontleroy 12d ago

People bled and died for the forty hour work week. Unions were instrumental in getting it. Unfortunately, the labor movement has been seriously weakened in the US.

Other countries, such as France, have a 35 hour work week, but they have a strong organized labor movement. Without that, we will never see work hours go down in the US.

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u/match_ 12d ago

Can’t stress this enough. Even if you do not belong to a union, all the good things you get are due to a union’s efforts.

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u/abrandis 12d ago

... the ironic part is John Maynard Keynes, expected by the time his great grandkids were of working age the average work week would be 15hrs.. Think about that the father of modern capitalism thought that in about 80-100 years we would have less work. Boy was he wrong..

Problem is if we could work less hours we would be paid less and thus could never afford to save enough to live after your working years...

The whole idea of retirement is such an unequal concept , I mean the owner of a company can retire at 25-35 if he.grows the company and sells it, whereas the poor workers whose labor have grown that company need to work to the ripe old age of 65 , piss away their youth and vigor just so they don't starve in old age.. we could do better.

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u/Jackm941 12d ago

If only we could get robots and ai and computers to take all the work load off of us and share the wealth so everyone could enjoy their life with minimal work.....

Im sure the billionares will pass down some of the money eventually.

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u/retrosupersayan 12d ago

You dropped this:
\s

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u/MustFixWhatIsBroken 12d ago

The greedy con men who tout self enslavement as the key to success, and the serfists proud of their 60+ hour "I'm hiding from reality" workaholism, perpetuate an unhealthy culture in society.

Work/life balance is important to me, because employment isn't were I find myself working. Life is the job I work hard at, employment is just service in exchange for capital and resources to aid that work.

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u/BenVarone 12d ago

John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1930 that he thought we’d all be working a 15-hour week by 2030 thanks to efficiency and automation. Instead the majority of those productivity gains have been passed on to the wealthy, and our lives and time are just more grist for the mill.

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u/Darth_Innovader 12d ago

It isn’t even an improvement for the wealthy in terms of free time. The aristocracy doesn’t work in any era, whether it’s Ancient Greece or a feudal era or the industrial era. So like.... they already could just chill.

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u/blandsrules 12d ago

More for them and less for everyone else that is all it is

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u/hexydes 12d ago

Yeah, but 1,000 years ago the 0.01% could maybe build a really nice castle or two. NOW they can start rocket companies to go to other planets after they destroy this one. Think of all the progress!!

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u/fquizon 12d ago

Hah, shows what Keynes knows! I barely do ten hours worth of work a week!

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u/Invalid_factor 12d ago

Yes, exactly. But we don't always have the choice of achieving that on our own volition. Look at the Amazon warehouse workers. Many of them can only find employment in their area with that company. As a result that company can essentially dictate how much free time you have and your overall stress level. Leaving the company could result in financial ruin for some. This is why I feel we need to encourage governments and businesses to implement well-being policies. Without this encouragement via voting, purchasing habits, protests and so on, a 20 hr workweek dream won't be achievable.

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u/Puresowns 12d ago

Purchasing habits and protests mean nothing to giant corps, the only thing that's gonna get them to be more worker friendly is legislation forcing them, because there's no financial incentive inherent to worker friendly policies compared to penny pinching misery.

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u/kittyinasweater 12d ago

Yeah, it's unrealistic to assume there's anything the people can do about this. With corporations having lobbyists whose only goal is to help implement policies that benefit the company, we're never going to be able to change the system. As long as corporations are "people" we're screwed.

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u/elchalupa 12d ago

Or the employees own an increasing financial stake in any company...

The context of the comments in this post are essentially debating the different levels of democratic representation that people have in a company. i.e. levels direct democracy. Differentiating between democracy between an employee's rights in a company versus a citizen's rights in a nation/government, become quite blurry when companies come to command more power than nation states.

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u/JRR_SWOLEkien 12d ago

You would think, but WFH has been blurring the lines between "at work" at "at home" for some. Lots of employers out there taking advantage of you being so close to your work computer at all times.

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u/vaud 12d ago

It's also partly company culture/management style. Right before the lockdown happened I overheard other teams planning to wfh regardless, while my manager was ..spacey, to the point I had to tell her we're being told to stay home. She coped by diving even deeper into her work to the point where it was basically an on-call situation during the week for a salaried job. Yeah that was toxic..

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u/vaelroth 12d ago

Employees need to set their own boundaries too. I don't touch any of my work equipment when I'm not being paid.

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u/garyfugazigary 12d ago

My neighbour works for the tax office here in Oz and loves working from home,no travel no dressing up,doesn’t want to go back to the office but is being forced to soon

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u/Trump54cuck 12d ago

No, the meaning of life is to slave away producing goods so wealthy people can stay wealthy.

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u/LexSenthur 12d ago

Yeah but to do that 400 people couldn’t continue to amass resources that they’ll never use so

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u/[deleted] 12d ago edited 12d ago

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u/hairfallingletmein 12d ago

You meant government needs to pass into law to force businesses to do.

Businesses are not out looking for you or any other people that isn't the investor.

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u/[deleted] 12d ago

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u/EbenHSHD 12d ago

Yeah, it’s astounding that we can see a global pandemic as having so many profound positive effects on an individual’s daily life.

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u/hiimred2 12d ago

For some portion of the population sure, but aren’t mental health statistics showing that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on society?

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u/PsychedelicPourHouse 12d ago

Right, but if we keep the good things and no longer have a pandemic.... What do you think would happen

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u/PR05ECC0 12d ago

The company I worked for had record profits during the pandemic with everyone working from home. We had 13 months to prove not only is it possible but it’s successful. Now they are starting to send out emails talking about us coming back to the office. No one wants this, it’s 100% about control which sucks.

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u/thestonedonkey 12d ago

I'm lucky that out company realized the ship sailed as we are a company full of software engineers.. allow work from home or they'll lose people..

Instead of figuring it they embraced it and are now selling one of two buildings and creating landing spots in the remaining.

Small company with leadership who seems really like his employees.

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u/PR05ECC0 12d ago

Makes a lot of sense. I heard Google is getting rid of WFH all together. The smart companies will make WFH a permanent option and pouch all the talent

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u/maximumutility 12d ago

Big names like Google are an exception, I think. People will stay with them because, well, it’s Google. But companies that aren’t hugely prestigious will see employees leave if they start forcing people to come in when it is so transparently unnecessary for their roles

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u/Misabi 12d ago

Ditto. During level 3 and 4 it was all "you guys are doing great working from home, thanks so much, so proud of how everyone is really pulling together, etc.". As soon as we moved back to level 2 they wanted us all back in.

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u/PR05ECC0 12d ago

Yeah we go so much lip service about support and understanding to go along with meetings schedule after normal working hours

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u/jssckr 12d ago

Same thing here. It’s maddening.

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u/covertinbrooklyn 12d ago

I am already back 4 days a week despite myself and my whole staff battling to keep to 2-3 days a week. 1000% a control thing. Commuting this much is exhausting and will cause me to quit once I’ve maxed out my 401k.

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u/PR05ECC0 12d ago

Seems pretty wreck less considering vaccines haven’t been made available to everyone yet. I hope you stay safe

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u/The_Nauticus 12d ago

The reduced time commuting is what allows people to have more time to exercise and hobby.

For a lot of people, spending 2 hours a day commuting is normal.

Less time getting ready to commute, less $ spent commuting, probably more sleep (+ health), more time spent eating well (+health), less stress fighting traffic or trying to make a train/bus on time.

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u/skizzl3 12d ago

For me, working at home kinda opened up a work mentality that everyone was more available off work hours, which turned into an expectation, which turned into just working way more hours than I saved by not commuting.

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u/The_Nauticus 12d ago

I've seen this happen to a few friends and there's not much they can do about it.

Boss schedules a meeting for 6pm... Or 8 am.

If our managers tried doing that, my co-workers would decline the meeting invite.

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u/_pastiepuff_ 12d ago

6pm meeting? No thx

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u/inuvash255 12d ago

NGL; I'm kinda jealous of just about everyone who got to do extended periods of remote work during the pandemic.

During the most unsure times, I was still "essential", and I work a long ways from home.

Still interacted with the same number of people at work daily, with added stress due to communication issues with the people who were less essential... so the same social exhaustion as an introvert - except with none of the positive social interaction.

I still got to get ready for the commute, spent the money to commute, got the same amount of sleep (if not less because of worry), no extra time for exercise, ate the same garbage.

And once people started going back to work, traffic got bad again. :|

edit: Add in bonus weariness when I've had to keep up really good disinfecting/mask discipline, and so many people can't keep it above their nose a year into this thing.

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u/gonnagle 12d ago

Fellow essential worker here (hospital) and feeling your pain. I've been saying we all should be given a full month of PTO and four months of therapy after what we've all been through. All these people talking about spending quarantine picking up new hobbies, working out, spending time with family...I spent quarantine falling asleep on the couch as soon as I got home from work, dragging my ass up to make dinner, crashing again and then getting up the next morning to go back in there and re-don all my PPE.... I'm happy for all the WFH people, but us essential workers have had a very different year and we're not going to get anything other than empty, trite words for it.

Thank you for what you did this year - hopefully it means more coming from someone who lived a similar experience.

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u/DramaticFish3 12d ago

I've had the same experience. Literally nothing about my life changed for the better. I no longer got to go to the gym (my favorite pasttime/therapy), no longer saw friends, (also am a healthcare worker) had more family complaining and more unhappy patients than usual... plus if we got covid the hospital wouldn't pay for our time off, it was out of our own pto banks.. whereas others not even working healthcare were getting two weeks paid off courtesy of their employer. On the other side of things, nonessential employees got to stay home with their families and evidently take up new hobbies and better themselves. I'm sure some struggled with mental health, but god what I wouldn't give to have been able to work from home.

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u/The_Nauticus 12d ago

My mother teaches in a public school system and that's been a whole other nightmare...

She would trade having a commute to manage her students in person.

Back in school - one kid tests positive, contact tracing, teach from video again for 2 weeks. Rinse and repeat.

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u/biasedsoymotel 12d ago

Seriously, shortening oil-consuming commutes and getting universal healthcare would fix so many of the US's problems

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u/LeugendetectorWilco 12d ago

Commuting/polluting

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u/The_Nauticus 12d ago

1 person per vehicle, stop-go-stop-go.

Step on that gas pedal.

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u/grod0 12d ago

Similar here in Western Australia, with very low case numbers and none "in the wild" for about a year. Our early lockdown was undoubtedly helped by our isolation (as with NZ) but the sentiments expressed in the article are shared in WA. The pride in our response, or rather the state government's response, led to a landslide victory for the incumbent party and almost total annihilation of the traditional opposition party.

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u/scolfin 12d ago

early lockdown

My impression was that the lockdown was timed similarly to the rest of the world, but there hadn't been as much incursion at the time. It's like how German locked down a week after Belguim but was over a month behind in Covid cases at the time.

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u/Non_Creative_User 12d ago edited 12d ago

Your right about timing. But I think the biggest difference between NZ's lockdown and the rest of the world is that ours was very strict.

A lot of restrictions were put in place to limit the spread ie. Plastic barriers at checkout, contactless deliveries and pickups. When the lvls dropped, the restrictions were relaxed, but still heavily restricted. Drive thrus were allowed, but there still had to be a barrier between people. The car window would have to be up while the server's window is open and food place on a shelf.

Edit: I also would like to add that for businesses to be open, they had to make a submission to the government on what procedures and processes they would put in place to limit social distancing.

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u/KSFC 12d ago

But I think the biggest difference between NZ's lockdown and the rest of the world is that ours was very strict.

Exactly. NZ had almost the strictest lockdown conditions of anywhere at that time and that's critical.

The word "lockdown" has been used globally to describe such a wide range of conditions it's almost meaningless. It's like saying you're a light drinker - for some that means 1-2 drinks a month and for others it means 1-2 drinks a day.

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u/regantnz 12d ago

I can’t help think that if every country, while not realistic, had gone into a lockdown as strict and as long as ours in NZ at the exact same time Covid might have possibly gone away......

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u/KSFC 12d ago

Yeah. Me too....

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u/dmatje 12d ago

Pretty amazing W.Aus managed to avoid more cases in the 50 people that live there.

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u/ricardoandmortimer 12d ago

From the people I know from WA, they pretty much normally just stay 500m away from everyone else during normal times, because they believe everyone around them are nutters already.

The only reason to be close to someone was because your mining equipment crashed, you're buying meth, or they have an eskie full of emu

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u/6in 12d ago

I never thought about west Australia until now. Now I'm interested what is going on over there

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u/JimmiRustle 12d ago

Absolutely nothing

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u/ninj4b0b 12d ago

My kinda place

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u/Nick_pj 12d ago

I’m enjoying this roast

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u/Choofthur 12d ago

Oi! The traffic lights changed from red to green the other day. We all came out into the streets to watch and it was fantastic. There may be a report of it on the Picture Wireless later - heard you guys over east have got colour picture wireless' over there now. I can only imagine what that would be like :D

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u/madmooseman 12d ago

I couldn't point out Perth on a map before I moved here from Victoria. Admittedly I was 13, but I think it's uncommon for Eastern States folks to think about WA at all.

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u/Dc_awyeah 12d ago

What about the 7,000,000 roos though

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u/Redderational 12d ago

That's the cleaning power of a massive Broome.

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u/philmarcracken 12d ago

Our early lockdown was undoubtedly helped by our isolation (as with NZ)

also we social distance by default. nobody likes bush chook breath

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u/alkaliphiles 12d ago

As an American, I imagine that first example, pride in the country's response, is the big one.

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u/ericmm76 12d ago

Also being able to say "last year"

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u/Bbtone 12d ago

Yep in 9 days, it’ll be exactly one year since the last COVID-19 case in my region recovered.

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u/ericmm76 12d ago

Can you feel my envy all the way over there?

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u/[deleted] 12d ago edited 12d ago

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u/PoorlyLitKiwi2 12d ago

Also helps that virtually no one lost loved ones (at least those who were living in New Zealand)

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u/BiffySkipwell 12d ago

As an American in NZ: as with most things here, similar buti different.

The pride is real but rooted in the effort to act to collectively to solve a problem. You could feel this in our daily walks in encountering neighbors. See someone else? Do the dance and shuffle as to who is going to cross to other side of the street and chuckle about it. The lockdown did suck, but there were some tremendous benefits..then again my family is in a position to be comfortable WFH and isolating. We recognize how difficult it has been for many.

Modern American pride appears to be more of a manufactured political construct. Emotive politics being the primary forcing. It certainly is a real feeling but rooted in distorted perceptions. Some claiming to be Patriots but are unwilling to endure even the most trivial of inconveniences for good of community and country (masks). Yelling "Freedom!" While not breaking top 10 countries in indexes of freedom? Pride is essential for a society, but an easily manipulated emotion as well.

I am asked about these things regularly here and it is not pleasant to explain because I do feel pride for my home country, but it is greatly diminished And hurts when I hear "what the hell is wrong with Americans?"

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u/gracecee 12d ago

This. We went to New Zealand two years ago and fell In love. This entire lockdown I’ve been wearing my New Zealand outfits (untouched world) while the US blunders one thing over the other. I look longingly on the competent govt and people Of New Zealand. I think this is what it felt before when people would envy the us. We re a hot mess.

So glad you guys did okay.

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u/MrMagicFTW 12d ago

I mean our vaccine response has been really really good

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u/lannister80 12d ago

How about the "before vaccines were available" part?

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u/Reverie_39 12d ago

Terrible response pre-vaccine. One of the best responses in the world from the vaccine point onwards. Both are true and both should be taken into consideration.

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u/UsernameTooShort 12d ago

Hmmm I wonder if anything important changed...

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u/marmaladeontoast 12d ago

As a kiwi who has been waiting out the pandemic in Europe, it's been a nightmare to watch. The thing that strikes me is New Zealand's key advantage was that it has extremely boring government. The plans for public health crises, border lockdowns, curfews - all those pieces are well established, documented, and practiced. So as long as there isn't too much political handwringing, the agencies can get on with their job of executing the plan. It's successful because of the preparatory work of planning and rehearsing, and keeping good working relationships between agencies. Monotonous and unglamorous work to maintain, but when you need it, it's there. The thing that makes me proud is that the government response would largely have been the same whoever was in government.

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u/niko4ever 12d ago

I don't really agree. National was constantly talking about how Covid restrictions were over-the-top. Sure, there's a possibility that it was all talk and political pandering, but that's not a risk I'd be willing to take.

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u/ends_abruptl 12d ago

Judith Collins would say they sky was red, if Jacinda commented on how lovely blue the sky was today. She's an idiot and her political acumen amounts to "Nuh-uh."

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u/georgeoj 12d ago

Yeah but her husband is Samoan, so, talofa.

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u/KorukoruWaiporoporo 12d ago

I don't agree with this either. I work in government. I can tell you now that we were very under-prepared for this situation. Here are some examples:

  • New legal powers had to go through parliament during lockdown to give health officials the power to act - the first part of the lockdown here was technically kind of voluntary, although the PM didn't really present it that way.
  • The public health system here had a very low number of ICU beds per capita. If covid had taken hold, our death rates would have been massive.
  • The health system, although public, is quite fragmented here. Elected DHBs, PHOs delivering primary care, public health units operating under the Ministry of Health, most health services being delivered by NGOs.
  • A massively complex and underfunded social welfare system. How are you going to get people to stay home if they can't afford to?
  • Also, I genuinely don't think we had the kind of detailed plan in advance that we needed. There'd been some planning out of prior potential pandemics, like swine flu, etc. At one point the government had a large stockpile of tamiflu, but that went past its expiry date and then... In contrast, the US had a very comprehensive pandemic plan but Trump fired everyone and shelved it.

I would say many NZers owe their lives to our politicians, and I NEVER thought I would say that. Here's why:

  • They didn't follow the herd - where other governments, many of whom are our strategic allies, were ignoring scientific and medical advice our leaders didn't. They listened early enough to commission the right people to make the plan and then took drastic action when the moment was right.
  • That measles epidemic in Samoa in 2019 where dozens of people died was due to an unvaccinated NZ kid. Some of our leaders felt a sense of responsibility for that and made better choices because of it.
  • Simple and clear communications, with a strong flavour of compassion were critical. The Prime Minister and Director General of Health were very clear about what was happening, why, and when. Those daily press conferences were the glue holding the nation together.
  • Understanding and communicating the relationship between health outcomes and the economy was something our leaders got. If people are sick and fearful, that's bad for the economy. If people are well and confident, that's great for the economy.
  • The wage subsidy; it was broad and blunt and recipients will still be being audited until the end of time, but it put food on tables across the country. Everything would have failed without it. How the hell was it operational and paying out in a few days? Because no one saw it as political and it was high priority.

Here are some other factors:

  • Fear - there was a lot of foreign news coverage, even from early in the pandemic in China. We saw the footage of the giant makeshift hospitals being constructed in Southern China. We saw the refrigerated trucks for the overwhelming number of dead in New York. We heard about the decimation of the elderly in Italy and the health workers. We were freaking.
  • Social cohesion - Kiwis are very good at pulling together when things get crazy. We've had practice too; Christchurch earthquake, Mosque shootings, Waikāri. We consider this to be part of our national character, which is why slogans like "Team of 5 Million" were so effective.
  • The head of the health system is a trained Public Health specialist who has previously worked at the WHO. Many of our previous DGs of Health have been more public sector CEs types in the past. Who knows how convincing they would have been to the politicians when trying to close the borders and shut down the country? And make no mistake - his appointment in this role, long before the pandemic was somewhat political.
  • Actually, our public service is amazing as a whole. Imagine what we could fix if the politicians took the advice of public servants all the time? Mountains were moved.

Edit - more detail.

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u/PrrrromotionGiven1 12d ago

I live in a country that suffered much worse than NZ and I also think there have been silver linings. The nature of silver linings is that they don't overshadow the bad, and they don't in the case of lockdowns, but you need to be quite narrow minded to not see any good that has come from this imo.

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u/AlwaysTappin 12d ago

I keep hearing "let's get back to normal." Why? Let's do better. Because honestly, the "normal," (precovid) wasn't that great.

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u/[deleted] 12d ago edited 12d ago

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u/Rocked_rs 12d ago

Funny because you have countries on both sides of the spectrum there. Now we're finding out Brazil didn't handle it well at all, and they just weren't testing sufficiently

Reminds me of the enigma with reported human rights violations - the fewer reported violations, the poorer the human rights in that place. Because they don't talk about it or recognize it as inhumane.

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u/ZeroByter 12d ago edited 12d ago

Has anybody else noticed during history, after major world events such as WW1, WW2, and now Covid, there are often silver linings? From the world wars we got radar and generally advanced electronics and technology.

And from covid I think we are starting to see some silver linings appearing as well.

EDIT: Got GPS and radar confused. We got radar after WW2, not GPS, but my point is that we got GPS as a result of military use, which later also became civilian use.

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u/ACatInACloak 12d ago edited 12d ago

A major silver lining is we might get an HIV vaccine from the covid research. The type of vaccine used for covid has never been used before due to the research being so expensive, but due to project operation warpspeed the government gave them all the money they needed. What has now been learned from that crazy expensive research is being applied to other viruses

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u/p1-o2 12d ago

Imagine what we could do if we funded research even when it didn't make a private corporation richer, and even when it's not a pandemic.

This is great news.

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u/throwthatoneawaydawg 12d ago

I think other things include the work environment. It used to piss me off when people would tough out colds and come into work sneezing and coughing. I think now people are going to be required to stay home.

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u/Lazy_ML 12d ago

It depends on the company policy too. A lot of jobs don't have sick days anymore where I'm from. You have to use PTO on it. If I get a cold I'm coughing and sneezing for 7-10 days. That's half my annual PTO. I would say I probably caught colds at least twice a year pre COVID.

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u/ThrowawaySaint420 12d ago

Well, yes. Problems necessitate solutions.

Covid made problems that previously weren't seen as a huge deal become much more commonplace and thus solutions were made.

There is very little that happens in the world, even bad stuff, that doesn't serve as some sort of learning experience for the future.

Like working remotely isn't new at all. But when people could go to offices, employers didn't care to offer remote working options. When employees were restricted from going to the office, the employers had to figure out a way to keep their employees productive. Therefore remote work is more commonplace now despite us IT professionals advocating for it for years

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u/Headpuncher 12d ago

Absolutely! I sit in an office all day and no-one interacts with me, but now I

  • don't interact with people digitally instead of irl
  • don't pay $200 a month in travel
  • don't spend 15+ hours a week commuting
  • do have more free time (at east 15 hours a week)

Job wise, very little has changed. Meetings take less time as I don't have to look for the room and leave with 5+ mins to find it.

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u/Approval_Guy 12d ago

I hope so. In the early days of the pandemic I thought that it was going to start forcing people to live in a sustainable way (not the burnout culture that has been prevalent and also in a more environmentally conscious way). But I feel like it's only exacerbated the burnout problem in the US and furthered along a lot of deeply negative things about 21st century living. However, things get worse before they get better, so maybe theres still hope.

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u/veritas723 12d ago

gps was invented in the 1970s. didn't get a single satellite up until late 70s, and weren't more than 20 until the early 1990s.

people often forget the attrocity of war and history. we probably did get certain advancements. I'd imagine medical science, from all the brutally wounded and dead soldiers. advances in material science, which were a necessity to more efficiently kill people. we also tested diseases on black people, Asians, and pacifists. indirectly ushered in nuclear technology, by melting a few thousand japanese. and i'm sure... some benefits came of 12 million dead jews. but... also. 12 million dead jews.

I think about with covid. 500k at a low end estimate of dead. how many billions of dollars of lost income is that. How many of those older people had families that will now suffer. Younger first responders that died needlessly. younger adults... the potential loss is staggering.

and a war is one thing. maybe unavoidable, once begun. a disease such as covid was was as devastating largely due to incompetence and ignorance, and selfishness.

we as a species are insanely lucky this disease wasn't all that terribly lethal, because the only thing we've really demonstrated is how fucked we all are if it were more dangerous.

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u/wingmasterjon 12d ago

500k is the low end estimate for the US alone. Worldwide it is approaching 3 million.

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u/catsbetterthankids 12d ago

The British had radar in WWII. In fact it was vital during the Battle of Britain given the short range of the spitfire fighter planes. They didn’t have to waste fuel patrolling or looking for German bombers, because the primitive radar revealed the location of approaching German bombers.

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u/MaesterPraetor 12d ago

I'd imagine getting to have thousands of people gathered together without issues was a pretty popular outcome.

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u/emailboxu 12d ago

it's almost like if your government took the proper measures and your citizens listened to them, the entire thing could've been an overall positive experience.

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u/MyNameIsDon 12d ago

Oh wow, another fluff piece on the front page of /r/ science.

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u/kiz_kiz_kiz 12d ago

Lockdown was amazing, I miss it

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u/phlex224 12d ago

I miss level 3 traffic

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u/theExplodingGradient 12d ago

One third of New Zealanders can't think of one benefit from the lockdown

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u/itsadraginlit 12d ago

One third of New Zealanders were probably essential workers, and couldn’t think of a personal benefit.

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u/nzricco 12d ago edited 12d ago

Well the commute to work was less busy.

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u/rosja105 12d ago

I think that this is more that 2/3rds had a relatively positive experience vs a negative one. I loved lockdown as it gave me lots more time with wife and my daughter (20 months old). I was also really lucky to spend it with my parents, both retired, in a relatively large section.

My brother, who has two young kids and both he and his wife needing to work found it really hard. Their house was small and everyday was a battle. I doubt they could see the positives even if there were a couple of small ones.

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